Why High School Students Should Travel Abroad at Least Once Before College
We live in a diverse, ever-changing world. Each country has a distinct voice and unique cultural contributions to our global community. As a high school student, you may have traveled around the U.S. Maybe you've even caught the travel bug from international trips and vacations. If so, you know there is a whole world out there to see.
But did you know that there are more ways to gain this global experience than your typical foreign exchange or study abroad program? The Hun School of Princeton offers different global immersion trips each year. Step onboard and taste all that Paris has to offer during our three-week NextTerm program in France, or explore the beautiful country of Ghana to gain personal insights into its history and development.
Our international options give students a condensed crash-course into a life completely outside their own — providing unique lessons that will reverberate throughout their future.
Why Study Abroad in High School?
High school is a pivotal time in a young adult's life. There are countless monumentally big, life-changing questions being thrown at you — and you're expected to have all the answers. Where should you go to college? What major should you choose? What's your passion or your calling in life?
Foreign high school programs can empower you to increase your self-awareness and push yourself beyond your limitations. While studying abroad may not answer all of life's daunting questions, you'll return with a better understanding of who you are and how you see yourself contributing to the world. You might be surprised by just how much you can grow in such a short span of time when you dare to move beyond your comfort zone.
In the grand scheme, study abroad programs help build a foundation for cultural competency, which includes understanding global diversity. Some schools — especially private schools such as The Hun School — offer an exchange program integrated within the curriculum. That way, high school students can learn the transferable skill of connecting through differences — whether in a foreign country or right on their future college campus.
Top Five Benefits of High School Travel
Why are international experiences so beneficial for high school students? Nothing breaks a person from their own limited perspective like experiencing another culture, language and lifestyle. When your classroom is the world, you'll learn more than you ever could studying within just four walls. Plus, you'll have the adventure of a lifetime along the way.
Here's a look at the top five benefits of a high school exchange program.
- Learn the Value of Community
A high school study abroad program can open your eyes to the benefits of community, leadership, and service around the world. It's also a great opportunity to apply what you've learned in the classroom to the real world. An exchange program should always have a community connection, so you can immerse yourself in a brand new culture and learn from those who are different than you.
High school students who study abroad should also do some service learning while visiting a new country. Instead of simply hitting the tourist spots, remember that service learning will give you a chance to live and work with the community and make a difference around the world.
- See the World Anew
One of the greatest gifts that travel offers is the opportunity to witness other ways of doing things. Perhaps you've fallen victim to the common mentality of "This is what I've always seen — so this is the way it is done."
Take a trip to an Indian Reservation, and learn about life today among Native Americans. Travel to France to uncover a past you might not have read about in your World History textbooks. A trip to Ghana might give you a new insight into how international relations have impacted the culture, economy, and politics of the country for generations. Everywhere you go, you’ll see customs and traditions wildly different from your own.
This experience will prepare you to successfully enter a diverse college campus or workforce while helping you to form valuable relationships in places all over the world.
- Invest in Your Future
When you choose a study abroad program that requires you create a portfolio, journal, video, blog, or other project, you can use your creation for upcoming college applications. College admissions counselors love to see students who have traveled the world and have a broader view than just their home country. Showing your portfolio or journal can demonstrate that you value other cultures and that you're comfortable being a little shaken up from the norm.
The right exchange program can also prepare you for your future career. Do you want to study physics in the future? Choose a study abroad program that gives you real-world experience that you can talk about in your journal or blog. Are you interested in STEM? Choose an experiential learning trip to South America and help install solar panels on homes without electricity. If you want to work in the medical field, you could travel to a developing country and provide medical care. Doing so will help prepare you for your future career and show a college that you're committed to your field.
- Realize How Small the World Really Is
Isn't it ironic that experiencing the breadth and width of the world can make you realize how small it actually is? Traveling connects you to people and places that would otherwise be as real as fantasy novels existing only in the imagination.
Once you’ve gone on a mile-long trek to get clean drinking water for a home in remote Central America or visited a school in Ghana, the world starts to shrink and become intimately connected. You'll become a true global citizen who cares about international current events, whether it's fundraising for victims of a natural disaster or becoming an advocate for social change in a foreign political catastrophe. These issues might sound distant on the news — but once you've connected with the world, you'll know that your responsibility reaches further than just the places you can see.
- Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Getting outside your comfort zone is no small challenge. It takes a lot of confidence, after all, to participate in a homestay with a family who doesn't have the electricity you're used to — or even speak the same language. But there's rich value in being uncomfortable, adapting to new situations and seeing a commonality beyond the differences.
Connecting with people different than yourself can be a wonderful taste-test of college — and the real world. You'll encounter and work alongside people with completely different world views, ideals, values, and perspectives. Immersing yourself in a new culture is the best practice you could have for your upcoming entry into a diverse college or workplace.
Discover the World and Your Place in It at Hun
At The Hun School, we encourage every high school student to challenge their views and build confidence in a dynamic, supportive environment. Located in Princeton, NJ, the school's 45-acre campus is located just 43 miles from Philadelphia and 50 miles from New York City.
The Hun Upper School offers an innovative approach to learning, including college preparation, college counseling programs, and experiential and travel-based learning opportunities. For three weeks each May, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors participate in one of 16 immersion learning NextTerm courses. In each credited course, students explore real-world topics through problem-based, interdisciplinary learning that includes local, domestic, or international travel.
Studying abroad at The Hun School equips high school students with real-world experiences, helping them succeed in college and create a more inclusive and compassionate world.